Project Week: DIY Desk and End Table

13 Aug

Well friends, I recently spent 10 days at my parents house between moving out of the old apartment and into the new house (inconvenient that the leases did not overlap).  In those 10 days we decided to take on a couple of big DIY projects for the new place.  Here’s project number 1: repainting and finishing a desk and an end table.

In Bloomington, we’re pretty fortunate to have access to a lot of free stuff.  In a huge college town, move-out time inevitably leaves tons of stuff stacked and piled on curbs and by dumpsters.  We’re more than happy to pull over and pick up a table or desk that’s been cast aside as long as it’s in good condition.  So we decided that with just a bit of work on our part, we could turn an otherwise boring desk and end table into a nice matching set of furniture for the new place.

Desk before. You can kind of see the end table to the side.

The first real task was deciding on a color.  This took some time, but in the end, we came up with a color scheme that we both liked and agreed on…

Paint aisle

The desk was one of those easy to assemble deals and had one of those fake wooden finishes already.  So our first task was to sand down the finish a bit so that we could scratch up the surface just enough for the paint to have something to hold on to.  Then we put down a layer of primer before the actual paint.  Again, this helped ensure that the actual paint would stick and not come peeling off right away.

Sanding it down. Does this violate child labor laws?!


For our color scheme we decided on a deep brown for the top with a light olive green body.  This scheme fit with the greens and browns that we decided to stick with for most of the house.

Brown top. Ahh, a set of disconnected legs lying around!


The full color scheme.

We decided to hit each section of the desk with a couple of coats of paint.  This is pretty standard and really just helped to make the colors a little more vibrant and solid.  We debated whether or not to top the desk with some sort of clear coat or gloss to help seal it.  We found a can of spray paint clear finish at my parents’ house and decided to give it a shot since it was there.  That turned out to be a mistake as it dried a bit streaky.  So then we had to find a way to remedy that little misstep.  We decided to get some polyurethane clear, brush-on finish.  This stuff worked out great.  It covered the awkward streaks left by the spray paint finish (I’d advise against spray on finish) and left a great, shiny seal that helped to make the top of the desk pop.

Desk setup in our house.

The end table in the house.

So there we have it.  One of our projects while living at home.  It turned out really well, and we were able to accomplish it on a pretty on a tight budget:

End Table:           FREE

Desk:                   FREE

Quart of primer:      ~$6

Quart of brown:       ~$7

Quart of green:       ~$7

Polyurethane:         ~$8

Total Cost:             ~$28

Not bad for a “new” desk and end table!



Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Advice, Projects/Activities


Tags: , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Project Week: DIY Desk and End Table

  1. Buddy

    August 13, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    How much were your labor costs?


  2. trokspot

    August 13, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    The labor costs would have been astronomical because I usually work for $125/hr. But luckily, I cut myself a deal. And I had nothing better to do while at home. Labor costs = On the house.


  3. Scott

    August 15, 2012 at 5:37 AM

    I’m enjoying the blog. So far my favorite part is the picture of the paint shelves.


    • trokspot

      August 15, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      Thanks! I’m not sure how many more pictures of paint shelves I’ll have in the future, but hopefully you’ll continue to enjoy!


      • Scott

        August 15, 2012 at 9:04 PM

        Seriously. I’m reading the entries and enjoying the ride, but the paint shelf picture made me laugh out loud. No accounting for taste, I guess.



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